Theme Park Earnings Soar Courtesy of the ‘Experience Economy’

Theme Park Earnings Soar Courtesy of the ‘Experience Economy’

Universal Studios Orlando

Theme park earnings soared last year to a record level of £34.3 billion last year, an increase of 5% from the previous year. One reason for this is the organic marketing that social media users are providing these days. Visitors post selfies and videos of themselves from exotic locations which convince others to visit.

The strong effect that social media obsessed millennials exerted on theme parks has been discussed in the “2018 Global Theme and Amusement Park Outlook” report published by the IAAPA (International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions). The report elucidates that consumers are increasingly spending on the experience now, which has become a product in itself.

A Harris Poll survey in 2014 revealed some rather startling statistics about millennial spending habits. 78% of millennials prefer spending money on an event or experience rather than a physical product. And 72% expressed a readiness to increase expenditure on experience instead of tangible goods.

The survey further indicated that while only 34% of adults in the 45-54 age range shared their experiences on social media, an almost double 60% of millennials were involved in the same.

A 31.4 million increase in visitors expanded global theme park attendance to an all-time high of 1.1 billion during the year 2017. The IAAPA projects 1.3 billion visits to theme parks in 2022 emanating from a growth rate of 3.8% (starting from 2017).

Last year saw a £1.6 billion increase in spending where the Middle East and North Africa experienced the fastest growth. Accordingly, spending is projected to rise to £46.3 billion in 2022 owing to a four year 6.5% annual growth. Unsurprisingly, forecasts predict price rises and the opening of new parks due to the increase in demand.

The MENA region experienced an astounding 80.2% increase in spending and an amazing 71.9% in attendance at theme parks. However, since base values were modest, spending peaked to only £139 million, and visits rose to 5.5 million.

A series of new parks that opened in 2016 provided the impetus for this remarkable growth. The first of those was the IMG Worlds of Adventure that presents landscapes based on the Cartoon Network and Marvel universe. The ‘Motiongate,’ ‘Legoland Dubai’ and ‘Bollywood Park Dubai’ of the DPR Group (Dubai Parks and Resorts) followed later.

The DPR group alone drew almost 2.3 million visitors in the MENA region clearly manifesting itself as the prime factor behind growth in the region. In Abu Dhabi, the £1 billion Warner Brother indoor theme park opened its doors to the public in the same time period. And the SeaWorld is expected, in 2022, to build its first theme parks outside the US in Dubai and Saudi Arabia.

Forecasts predict theme park spending to peak to £414 million in the MENA region in 2022. This spending will be driven by a powerful 24.3% annual growth rate over the span of the next five years. Likewise, over a period of 4 years, attendance is expected to climb to 12.7 million.

In North America, on the other hand, visits to theme parks reached 399.7 million in the past year, trailing behind at second number to the Asia Pacific region. Growth rate fell from 2.3% to a meagre 0.7% during this time. The spending rate fell by 3.8% after registering a decline of 1.1 percentage points.

The report attributes these declines to “extreme weather” during the course of 2017 and optimistically expects a rebound in growth rates with the introduction of new attractions.

Robust growth will follow the opening of several theme parks in the US too. SeaWorld Orlando has opened the Infinity Falls, a theme park that features the largest vertical drop for river raft rides. Disney resorts in California and Florida will construct Star Wars themed areas, while the Universal Orlando Resort will lure bigger crowds with Harry Potter themed areas and events. Another notable success story is the recent opening of alien landscape (that replicates the Avatar universe) at Disney Orlando.

Forecasts anticipate 448 million visitors in 2022 and an increase in spending to £22.7 billion fuelled by a 29.3% increase in spending.

The Asia Pacific region enjoys big advantages from its colossal population base. Top class theme parks have therefore benefited by a record 465.3 million visits last year. Interestingly enough, this figure is larger than the projected amount for the US in 2022.

An enormous 601.2 million theme park visits are anticipated in the Asia Pacific region during 2022. This amazing growth will be fuelled by ambitious ventures such as the ‘Universal Studios Beijing’, which will be the largest ever theme park.

Universal Parks and Resorts will skyrocket its investment from £2.5 billion to an incredible £5 billion for its Universal Studios Beijing. Eagerly anticipated to commence in 2021, the park will have a hotel and retail shopping area in addition to areas based on ‘Fast and the Furious’ and ‘Harry Potter.’

Disneyland Hong Kong will, over the course of a few years, construct new areas that will take visitors on a sojourn to the ‘Frozen’ world and ‘Marvel’ universe.

Disneyland Tokyo will more than double its investment through a £1.6 billion expansion project that will further develop the Tokyo DisneySea. This project will build a new hotel and a port based on ‘Peter Pan,’ ‘Frozen’ and ‘Tangled’ by 2022.

In the European scene, Disney will launch an immense £1.8 billion project for the expansion of its Paris resort. The expansion, which will commence in 2021, will emulate the landscapes of ‘Frozen,’ ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Marvel Comics.’

IAAPA expects theme park visits in Europe to surge by 12% from 2017 to reach 192 million in 2021. Visits here burgeoned by 4.6% the previous year to reach 171.5 million and spending increased by 6.4% to reach £5 billion.

These are the best figures for the previous 5 years, even after being hampered by a stagnating economy.

Increased economic prosperity coupled with ambitious expansion projects will boost attendance and spending figures. France enjoyed the highest gains in Europe with a growth figure of 12.6% culminating in a spending figure of £1.1 billion. Spain ranked second with a £394million spending amount that was driven by a 15.7% growth figure during the previous year. 

This increase transpired as a result of expansion at the Port Aventura World Park that houses the fastest roller coaster ride in Europe. The ride is based on the Ferrari exotic race car. Plenty of opportunities here for high-octane photos and videos to embellish your social media account.